Scotland’s chief medical officer has resigned after ignoring her own advice to stay put.
Dr Catherine Calderwood initially issued an apology and was backed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to remain in the role.
However after further conversations with Sturgeon, Dr Calderwood said on Sunday night that she had resigned “with a heavy heart”, agreeing the “justifiable focus on my behaviour risks becoming a distraction from the hugely important job”.
In a statement, she added: “The most important thing to me now and over the next few very difficult months is that people across Scotland know what they need to do to reduce the spread of this virus, and that means they must have complete trust in those who give them advice.”
“I am deeply sorry for my actions and the mistakes I have made,” she said in a release late Sunday night.
“The First Minister and I have had a further conversation this evening and we have agreed that the justifiable focus on my behaviour risks becoming a distraction from the hugely important job that government and the medical profession has to do in getting the country through this coronavirus pandemic.”
She came under fire after it was reported she was travelling to a second home over the last two weekends, while cautioning Scots to not leave their homes except for essential needs.
“The most important thing to me now and over the next few very difficult months is that people across Scotland know what they need to do to reduce the spread of this virus and that means they must have complete trust in those who give them advice.
“It is with a heavy heart that I resign as Chief Medical Officer.
Dr Calderwood told a briefing at the Scottish Government headquarters in Edinburgh on Sunday she had also visited the home in Fife last weekend with her husband.
She apologised after photos of herself and her family near a coastal retreat in Earlsferry were published in a newspaper.
Just days earlier, the 51-year-old tweeted a photo of her family at their main residence in Edinburgh as they clapped for the front-line NHS staff working to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Sturgeon said she did not know about Dr Calderwood’s visits to her second home, a drive of more than an hour from Edinburgh, until Sunday night. She was forced to issue a second statement just hours later after initally backing Dr Calderwood.
She said visiting her second home was a mistake, but said she had apologised “honourably.”
“Catherine has been a transformational CMO, bringing changes to the way medicine is delivered in Scotland and in particular using her experience to bring an overdue focus to women’s health,” she said in a statement.
“Also, as I said earlier, her advice to me on Coronavirus will be missed – which is why she will work to ensure a smooth transition in the days ahead.”
She said Dr Calderwood left the office with the First Minister’s “admiration”.
Earlier Sunday, Police Scotland chief constable Iain Livingstone said officers had visited Dr Calderwood and issued a warning about her conduct.
He said in a statement: “Earlier today, local officers visited Dr Catherine Calderwood and spoke to her about her actions, reiterated crucial advice and issued a warning about her future conduct, all of which she accepted.
“The legal instructions on not leaving your home without a reasonable excuse apply to everyone. Social distancing is the key intervention to curtail the spread of coronavirus and it is essential that the instructions are followed to protect each other, take strain from the NHS and save lives.”
Dr Calderwood apologised for taking up police time and said she did not want to make the job of officers harder.